Thanks to Maher Mughrabi, correspondent for the Australian Age, for digging up some interesting information about Daniel Pipes about which I hadn’t known. Way back in 1987, Pipes (along with Bushites like Don Rumsfeld) were advocating cozying up to Saddam in his war against Iran. I did a little Google-rummaging through the internet and found this telling passage at Skepticfiles written in 1991:
…The 4/27/87 issue of The New Republic [includes] an essay engagingly entitled Back Iraq, by Daniel Pipes and Laurie Mylroie. Under the unavoidable subtitle “It’s time for a U.S. ’tilt,'” they managed to anticipate the recent crisis by more than three years. Sadly, they got the name of the enemy wrong. Mylroie, her expertise established herein, is the co-author with Judy Miller of the New York Times of a recent fast-buck paperback titled: “Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf.”
“IRANIAN TROOPS entrenched in southern Iraq…challenge the entire political order of the Middle East. The fall of the existing regime in Iraq would enormously enhance Iranian influence, endanger the supply of oil, threaten pro-American regimes throughout the area, and upset the Arab-Israeli balance. ….
“Ironically, helping Iraq militarily may offer the best way for Washington to regain its position in Tehran. The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines, and counterartillery radar. Indeed, Baghdad has already expressed an interest in purchasing American arms, but Washington rejected both the Iraqis’ request for C-130 cargo aircraft and a Jordanian proposal to let the Iraqis use King Hussein’s U.S.-made counterartillery radar. …
“The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying to Baghdad to balance the military damage done to Iraq by the arms-for-hostage swap. We now know that the United States has been providing Iraq with information on Iranian troop concentrations and damage assessments of Iraqi attacks on Iranian targets. It’s good this news is out; it gives the Ayatollah pause.
“CURRENTLY the United States provides Iraq with commodity credits worth $500 million annually. Repayment terms could be eased. Opening a line of export-import credits was discussed early in 1986; the United States backed down at the time, but should move forward now. Other economic steps (such as reducing tariffs on Iraqi goods) should be explored as well. Such measures would assert U.S. confidence in Iraq’s political viability and its ability to repay its debts after the war’s end, and would encourage other countries–especially Iraq’s Arab allies and European creditors–to continue financing Iraqi war efforts.
…”A MORE SERIOUS argument against a tilt toward Iraqis the danger that a victorious Baghdad would itself turn against pro- American states in the region–mainly Israel, but also Kuwait and other weak states in the Persian Gulf region. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq has a history of anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, support for terrorism, and friendliness toward the Soviet Union.
“But the Iranian revolution and seven years of bloody and inconclusive warfare have changed Iraq’s view of its Arab neighbors, the United States, and even Israel. Iraq restored relations with the United States in November 1984. Its leaders no longer consider the Palestinian issue their problem. Iraq’s allies since 1979 have been those states– Kuwait [!], Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco–most threatened by revolutionary upheaval, most friendly to the United States, and most open to negotiations with Israel. These allies have forced a degree of moderation on Iraq… Iraq is now the de facto protector of the regional status quo.
This isn’t exactly the type of journalism The New Republic would be proud of and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not available at their site. I should take that back–Marty Peretz wouldn’t be ashamed of this article. But any other self-respecting journalist would be.
To be absolutely fair (something Pipes never is toward his enemies), Pipes clearly shows the ability to tack toward favorable neocon political winds. He changed his tune and became a major cheerleader of the Iraq war. But just as with Rumsfeld’s embrace of Saddam during the same period, we must ask ourselves whether someone who backed Saddam wholeheartedly in 1987 is the type of person who should be advising any presidential candidate on Mideast issues.